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Series / Saturday Night Live

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"Live from New York, it's Saturday Night!"

"It was like the X-Men school for comedians, y'know? All these guys with superpowers, together!"

Live from New York, describe Saturday Night Live here!

Saturday Night Live is a ground-breaking NBC Sketch Comedy Variety Show, broadcast live from New York City in what had been, until its premiere in 1975, TV's "graveyard shift" slot. According to Wikipedia, Lorne Michaels initially created it at the request of the network's then-president and CEO Herbert Schlosser as a scheduling replacement for reruns of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (which had previously aired in the slot before being retracted at the request of Johnny Carson himself, who wanted the repeat episodes to be saved for weekdays and aired whenever he was ill or chose to take a vacation in lieu of having to hire a guest host).

Often shortened to SNL for ease of reference, the show was specifically designed by its creator and executive producer, Lorne Michaels (who was once a writer on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In), as a showcase for young and edgy talent as a direct reaction to the older comedians who then dominated prime time but were fundamentally clueless about the tastes, styles, and preoccupations of younger Americans circa 1975. Rotating celebrity hosts and musical guests added to the "fingers on the pulse of pop culture" vibe the show strived for. During its early years, SNL reveled in a feeling of being just shy of completely out of control, and pushed the boundaries of television far beyond what anyone had ever seen before. By design the show's regular cast is continually shifting, with veterans departing for solo careers and young performers being recruited regularly.

The number of stars that emerged from this show is mind-boggling in itself:

SNL Cast Members (Past & Present):

    Cast Members A–Z 

Not coincidentally, many of these cast members are also veterans of The Second City, a world-class improv theatre troupe in Chicago and Toronto. Others are veterans of the Groundlings, a similar improv troupe based in Los Angeles.

Every episode features the guest host delivering an opening monologue and participating in most of the evening's sketches. Actors, musicians, and comedians are the most common selections. They have always had a standing band for various musical numbers, but often with a guest musician to perform a piece or two in the middle of the program. If the host is a well-known musician, they will often fill both roles, and sometimes guest musicians participate in skits too, though not as often as the host. And that's not counting the occasional unannounced surprise guests that can show up, from a brief cameo to a whole scene alongside the guest host. Steve Martin, John Goodman,note  and Alec Baldwin all have hosted the show over a dozen times, while Dave Grohl holds the record for musical appearances, with 11.note 

Several sketches from the show have been turned into feature films, mostly in the 90's. Quality ranged from good: The Blues Brothers, Wayne's World, Wayne's World 2, MacGruber to middling: Coneheads, Blues Brothers 2000, to terrible: A Night at the Roxbury and Superstar (1999), The Ladies Man. Two, Coneheads and Stuart Saves His Family, have been Vindicated by History. Most infamous though would be It's Pat!, which garnered a 0% freshness on Rotten Tomatoes.

Widely viewed as always having been better when one was younger, whenever that happened to be. In fact, the show seems to operate in cycles — it starts out outrageous and fresh and stays that way for a few years, then when its outrageousness becomes the norm the show gets panned for "not being funny anymore". The claims are solidified when a favorite cast member leaves, and the show goes through a down period as it transitions to a new cast. Then when the right cast members are found, the show becomes funny again and finds a new audience.

SNL has essentially become a New York City treasure, despite the years of turmoil (both on the show and in the world) that threatened to end the show and tarnish its legacy, and has proved time and time again that it can survive anything thrown at it, from fickle fans to national crises.

Thank you, and...




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